American Red Cross: Check Your Smoke Alarms

As people turn their clocks forward for daylight saving time this Sunday, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region encourages everyone to also test their smoke alarms. 

If a home fires starts, people have just two minutes to escape. Fires move fast, and according to Tonya Hoover, the Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, in as little as 30 seconds a small flame can become a major fire that ravages a home and threatens the lives of the people inside. The Red Cross responds to more home fires each year than natural disasters in the United States.

These numbers are startling and that is why the Red Cross has made it a priority to prepare families for home fires. The simplest thing that can be done is to check your smoke alarms. Make sure the batteries are fresh and that it is working/beeping. A working smoke alarm alert can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.

In 2021, Red Cross LA already has helped more than 420 people following more than 80 home fires with urgent needs such as emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning. Most recently, the Red Cross responded to a condominium fire in Panorama City and helped more than 50 people displaced by the fire, providing them food, water, safe lodging and other services as they begin their recovery.

"This week, Angelenos were reminded of the devastation of home fires firsthand with the condominium fire in Panorama City affecting more than 14 families," said Guillermo Sanchez, Interim Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross Los Angeles. "Fortunately, everyone got out safely thanks to working smoke alarms. Please, take a moment this weekend to test your smoke alarms to help protect your family."


  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. That's because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Check the date of your smoke alarms and follow the instructions.
  • Practice your two-minute escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home before it's too late. Include at least two ways to get out of every room and select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor's home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone can meet.

Learn how to act quickly by attending our virtual one-on-one home fire safety classes. Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family and book your virtual class. You also can download our free Emergency App (search "American Red Cross" in app stores). 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.

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